Malcolm Sedgwick was a thirty eight years old, beastly overweight married man of four young children with a mortgage, and a strong commitment to his spiritual belief. He was a very well respected and leading figure in the local church community; any spare time, Malcolm would use to organize fund raising events and social gatherings to promote the good word.
Malcolm worked as a courier for a small but busy inner city delivery service ‘Speed Guaranteed’ He rode a Honda CB125 and his huge hulk dwarfed the small machine and the other couriers would laugh as he left the depot with the bike coughing and spluttering beneath his weight. Malcolm had been employed at the company for five years; most of his fellow employees were younger and he felt them coarse and unread and he mostly kept himself to himself; He was loyal and punctual.
As usual Malcolm was the first to arrive at the depot at 08:15. He parked up the Honda and strode slowly into the office to be given his first delivery of the day. Manager Bob Stone had the day’s deliveries sorted for each courier. Bob Stone smiled and greeted Malcolm, who stood before him with tiny of beads of sweat gathering upon his forehead. “I’ll give you an hour to deliver this and get back here” said Bob Stone. Malcolm took the small package and nodded his head and made his way back to his motorcycle.
As he placed the package into the top-box he noted the name and address; an inner city adult sex shop. He stared hard at the package like it was a bomb about to explode. His mind pondered what may be in the package and he began to feel uncomfortable and unclean about these thoughts and he tried to shut them from out of his mind.
Malcolm made good time. He pulled the machine over and killed the engine. For a few moments he sat feeling anxious and confused, his mind saturated with images of what the package may hold; he felt torn between light and darkness. He climbed off the bike, took the package out of the top box and walked across the road to some public toilets. He locked himself in one of the cubicles and with shaking damp hands he opened up the package.
His fingers were trembling as he looked down at the photographs and he felt disgusted and aroused simultaneously. He began loudly cursing the photographs; “YOU FILTHY WHORES! GOD DAMN YOU! YOU HORNY SINFUL BITCHES! OH FUCK! OH FUCK! ‘ He unbuckled and whipped out his throbbing member; feelings and sensations that had laid dormant for years were unleashed and were now screaming through his body and mind and he was powerless to it. “OH, OH YOU DIRTY LOUSY BITCHES, OH SHIT! OH YOU,YOU ARE FUCKING BEAUTIFUL! OH! OH! YOU DEMON WHORES! With an overwhelming urge he began masturbating and very quickly climaxed over the photographs. He sat panting and puffing and then in a sudden rage of self loathing and guilt, he ripped up the sticky photographs and threw them onto the floor and began screaming loudly and pleading for forgiveness.”OH DEAR GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE! OH LORD FORGIVE ME PLEASE! PLEASE! WHAT HAVE I DONE! FORGIVE ME!“
“Hey, what the fuck you doing in there; keep the noise down!” said the attendant knocking hard on the cubicle door.
“Okay. Okay” said Malcolm capturing his breath; He gathered up the torn pieces of paper and thrust them back into the packaging. Panic and guilt and shame swirled within. He had no package to deliver. Of course he couldn’t tell the truth. He would lose his job. He’d lose everything, job, wife and children and house, everything; he would not be able to live with such shame and embarrassment.
If a courier somehow loses a package he is fired, there is no argument. However, one exception was if the courier was robbed of the package.
Malcolm made his way out of the public toilets and began walking with no thought of a destination. His hearted pounded like heavy shell fire and perspiration rolled from his forehead as his mind raced in every direction and he felt helpless. He needed to think of something, he wandered into narrow back-streets and as he rounded a corner he literally crashed into a gang of youths. “WHAT THE FUCK YOU DOING FATSO!” one of the young men screamed.
Malcolm began to apologise when he felt a fist smash into the side of his face, his legs were kicked from under him. He had let go of the package and one of the gang picked it up and opened it and sprinkled the contents onto the pavement. “Look at this shit!”
Malcolm coiled into the foetal position to protect himself from the volley of kicks that came without mercy. Several hours later he awoke in hospital having sustained numerous injuries. He saw his wife and children standing beside the bed and beyond them in the corridor waited two police officers.
He lied to his wife and children and he lied to the police officers. He relayed how he had been forced, by a gang of five young men, into walking into some backstreet, somewhere he didn’t know and then they attacked him, robbed him and destroyed the delivery and beat him into unconsciousness.
His wife and children were so proud of him; the story was featured in a local newspaper. He received dozens of well-wishing cards; particularly from the church community, from family and friends and from his employer’s and from total strangers. Each card that arrived was a reminding stab of guilt and shame.
Every day he lives this lie and everyday he lives with guilt and cannot find it within himself to forgive himself. He thinks of this often, of what he did and he feels ashamed and empty of goodness and no longer feels worthy into looking into the eyes of those who love and trust him; and every time he thinks of those photographs the primal urges surge and he looks upwards and mutters a prayer.
John D Robinson is a UK poet. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in small press zines and online literary journals. His last book “Hang In There” was published by Uncollected Press.